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Ethiopia may not be the Christian safe haven it has been

By January 24, 2020
ethiopia

Ethiopia (MNN) — Ethiopia — compared to its neighbors like Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan — is the tamest of the bunch when it comes to religious violence. But Greg Musselman with The Voice of the Martyrs Canada says that is changing.

“I have a close friend that is giving us information. Since he left many years ago and has gone back, he just said there is an increase of [Christian] persecution that’s happening,” Musselman says.

“When you look back at Ethiopia, for many, many years, the Muslim communities, the Orthodox [and] Evangelical communities have lived at peace with each other. But again, there are always those people within certain groups that are wanting to cause violence and it destabilizes the situation.”

Front-line workers in Ethiopia baptize former Muslims. (Photo, caption courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Ethiopia hasn’t always been on VOM Canada’s Christian persecution radar. However, when Musselman took his first trip with the ministry 20 years ago, they were routed through Ethiopia and spent a few days there.

“While we were there, we met with evangelical Christians who had come from Orthodox backgrounds that were really struggling and undergoing persecution. So that was kind of an alert to us. We were not aware of that at the time.”

Since then, VOM Canada has increased involvement with believers in Ethiopia. They see a variety of sources that persecution comes from — tribal violence, government restriction, radical Islam, and even oppression from the majority Orthodox Church on Evangelical minorities.

Specifically, some of the extremist violence is imported from neighboring countries. Musselman says with “the rise of militant Islam, they’re coming into Ethiopia and causing problems…. Is it as serious as it is in places like Nigeria and some of the other parts of the world when it comes to Islam? No, it’s not. But it still is increasing.

“Then you look at what’s happening in Eritrea [with] the attack on evangelical Christians in Eritrea with the arrest of thousands of evangelicals in shipping containers, military prisons, [and] things like that. That is going on somewhat in Ethiopia, but certainly not to the level it is in Eritrea.”

It’s especially saddening to see the destruction of churches and the targeting of God’s people in a land rich with biblical history.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

After all, Musselman says, “Ethiopia is one of the countries mentioned a number of times in the Bible [and] one of the first countries mentioned in the Bible — Cush as it’s also known. So there’s this long history that goes back 2,000 years for the Church.”

It comes down to the spiritual struggle taking place throughout the Horn of Africa, and Ethiopia is no exception.

Please pray for unity among the Church in Ethiopia. Ask God to strengthen their faithful witness and to soften the hearts of their persecutors.

“In the middle of the poverty, the tribal tension that’s taking place, the religious tension that’s taking place, [pray] that God’s Church…would not back down, that they would continue to be strong, but they would also have wisdom.”

To learn more about VOM Canada’s ministry, click here!

 

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Trevor Cole via Unsplash.

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